Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

respect to wealth, are more apt and sure to yield returns of the higher treasures of character, mind, and heart.

There are some, too, who have the impression, that the Liberian experiment has been a failure ; that the inhabitants are neither prosperous nor happy ; that the tone of morals is low among them; and, although some of them have become wealthy, that the greater number are poor and degraded, having gained nothing, but rather lost, if that is possible, by their translation to Africa. If this were so, it would be conclusive evidence against their power of rising ; so far as it went, it would show that they are wholly unfit for freedom, and need to be under the authority of others; it would confirm all that the despisers of the colored race have said of their natural inferiority and their necessary dependence ; for one cannot imagine how the experiment should be tried under more favorable circumstances, and if it has not succeeded, there is no hope that it would prosper if tried again, in this land or in any other. But so far from finding this depressing view of Liberia confirmed, on examination, the weight of testimony is entirely on the other side. Some disappointed persons, doubtless, there have been ; some white men who

; have left the colony in disgust, and published unfavorable representations of it. But on looking into the matter, it does not appear that they were so sick of Liberia, as the colony was of them. The colored persons who have abandoned the undertaking became disgusted at finding that they must exert themselves there as at home, and that, unless they labored for their subsistence, they must suffer even more than in this country, since there was no master on whom they could lean.

But by far the most fluent and sweeping testimony against the colonies has been given by those who never saw them, and who have no light whatever on the subject, except what a predetermined and deadly hatred gives. On the other hand, evidence is given in favor of Liberia by the officers of our navy, by masters of trading-ships, by residents who have returned, and by more colonists than one can number, - men who could have no motive to mislead the public, and whose characters forbid the suspicion of falsity. These all bear witness to the moral habits and social order of the people, their prevailing activity and intelligence, the abundance of talent and energy which they manifest, and their rapid advance in all the improvements of civil and domestic life. The churches and schools are well attended, the Sabbath is observed more faithfully than in any city of our land, the courts of justice are in steady and successful operation, the interests of the mind are properly regarded, and religion holds a place as high in the general respect and affection as in any part of the world. Really, no one, who is not determined never to believe, can resist the conviction, that all the promises and predictions of the founders have been made good. Considering the materials of which the colonies necessarily consisted, it is wonderful that they have come forward in civil and moral strength so soon. Neglected by friends and resisted by angry opposers, they have laid the foundations of an enlightened and powerful state, and the walls are already rising. We cannot understand how it is, that any, who wish to prove that the colored race are capable of manly action and self-sustaining energy, should reject the evidence which this history affords them. They may look in vain in other directions to find any testimony so satisfactory and convincing; and if they say that they need no such testimony, they must remember that others do, and that their doubts and sneers can only be answered by showing what colored men have done. Where can such illustration be found in successful action, except in a field like this?

One of the greatest recommendations of the system of colonization is the effect it will have on the continent of Africa, not only by affording a starting-point and place of protection for missionaries, which otherwise they could not find, but still more by its tendency to suppress the slavetrade, that most accursed of all sins and evils, which nothing else hitherto has been able to reach. The British government has exerted itself, apparently in good faith and feeling, to put an end to these horrible adventures ; but it is freely confessed, that their maritime power, great as it is, can hardly reach this traffic, and that it has continued to thrive and grow under all efforts to put it down. So long as the gain of such voyages is great, wretches will be found everywhere to fit out vessels for the trade and to man them, and if they are detected and pursued, their living cargoes, which might have testified against them, are drowned in the depths of the sea.

But while the fleets of great nations are baffled in their endeavours, these small colonies, composed of colored men

having sympathy for their brethren, are able to say and to maintain, that the slave-trade shall not pollute their ground; their influence with the natives goes far to prevent their engaging in it; and the avenues of fair and innocent commerce which they open withdraw the natives from violence and blood. It is made clear, by successful experiment, that

. where such colonies are established the slave-trade cannot come. Since every other attempt to suppress it is hopeless, and this is the only one which promises any success, every one who wishes to put an end to it must rejoice in the prosperity of these settlements, and give his willing aid to extend them. The only objection that can be made is, that they are not strong enough for the purpose, and this should be a reason for enlarging their means and numbers, and thus giving them more power for the work.

The history of this enterprise, as it is here recorded, is one of great interest even now, though the results of the movement are as yet but imperfectly developed. Before its consequences can open upon us, it must have reached its full stature. It has not yet passed through its childhood, or at most its forming state. But enough already appears to make

. it certain, that it will maintain its existence ; that it will be a

; strong and flourishing republic, and, like other republics, with all its faults, it will be a refuge for the oppressed; that it will have power to drive the slave-trade from its borders, and to send the light of humanity into the darkness of the continent, where it stands, like sunlight on the edge of a black cloud, giving promise that the shadow shall pass away. They who are disposed to ascribe its origin to selfishness should remember that it was commenced by private liberality, not that of slaveholders, but principally of those who could derive no advantage from it beyond the gratification of their benevolent feeling. Some of the States, also, have taken measures to establish colonies for themselves, and it is to be hoped that others will follow their example. But the national government, somewhat embarrassed perhaps by the relations in which it stands, has done nothing for it which is entitled to the name of patronage ; and pert and conceited officers of other nations have shown a disposition to tyrannize over it, by the exertion of brief authority in some unreasonable ways,

which it is hoped that their superiors will disavow. The streams of private charity have been largely and liberally flowing, and VOL. LXIII. No. 133.

25

efforts the most constant and unwearied have been made by its disinterested friends. No popular enthusiasm has lifted and borne it onward, but everywhere it has been sustained by the thoughtful convictions of the wise and good. More than once, it has encountered a tempest of resistance which would have destroyed it, had it been less firmly set in the conscience and affection of its supporters, – but which, as it is, has given it a deeper root, a mightier bough, and a richer depth of foliage, to shelter those who sit under its extending shade.

Any one who associates the idea of selfishness with colonization would do well to consider how many martyrs have laid down their lives for it, - martyrs not precisely of the kind so popular just now, who stand at a sufficient distance from all danger, and abuse the sinner, instead of endeavouring to influence him to give up the sin, - but of the more genuine sort, who hold comfort, safety, and life itself in light esteem, if, by surrendering them, they can be of service to the cause of man. Samuel J. Mills, before alluded to, was a man of this description ; he poured his full heart into every work of love. His most earnest desire was to preach the gospel to the Africans, and it was with a view to this work that he became an explorer in the service of the society, and contracted the disease of which he died. He found much to encourage him in the intelligent views which some of the natives suggested. One of them remarked, that it would be well to have the direction of the enterprise in the hands of colored men, since the neighbouring tribes would dread the encroaching spirit of the whites much more than that of their own kin. Another said, that, as soon as a colored man capable of the trust could be found for a chief of the colony, he ought by all means to be placed at its head ; — precisely the course which the directors have thought it wise to pursue.

The next of these devoted men was Samuel Bacon, an Episcopal clergyman, who interested himself in the subject, and was employed by the government as agent to take care of slaves delivered from the slave-ships. The emigrants who went with him were most of them taken sick with the acclimating fever ; his strength was exhausted by his unwearied attendance upon them ; his spirit was severely tried by their jealous and unreasonable upbraidings ; he found himself deceived by a native on whose faithfulness he thought he could rely. But while all things seemed to be against him, and the prospects of the enterprise were dark and low, he declared that his faith in colonization was strong as ever, for he bad actually seen Africans landed in America suffering as much and in the same manner as the emigrants there ; while the surprising fertility of the soil, the mildness of the climate, the commercial advantages, the great abundance of fish and wild animals, seemed like an invitation to the scattered children of Africa to return to their home. As for himself, he had counted the cost of the service, and had made up his mind to die in it, if necessary.

It was not long before he was weighed down with anxiety and labor. In the sickness which followed, he had neither medical attendance nor proper care ; and it was not long before he died, with a resigned spirit, and with unbroken confidence in the cause for which he had left his native land.

Another of these martyrs was Dr. Randall, of Maryland, a physician of great promise, who had been elected to a professorship in Columbia college. After the death of Ashmun, he felt it to be his duty to devote himself to the object in which he had been interested before, and therefore, against the remonstrances of his friends, he resigned all prospects of success and honor at home for the sake of rendering service to his race. Unfortunately, his zeal outran his strength. He exposed himself to the sun by day and the damps by night in a fatiguing journey, and, thinking more of his duties than his dangers, he became a victim, not so much to the climate, as to his earnest desire of doing good. Mr. Erskine, also, a colored Presbyterian divine from Tennessee, went out with his family to preach the gospel to the Africans, but was soon taken from his field of labor, after having followed his wife and daughter to the grave. Dr. Anderson, of Maryland, was another who left bright prospects and warm friends at home to labor in the service of humanity abroad; but

very soon after he landed in the colony, he was called from his difficult station to his eternal rest.

Many such examples there have been, to show how much generous self-devotion has been manifested in this cause. may seem like a needless waste of life, but almost all these physicians bore witness, that the unrelenting fever was not more alarming in Liberia than in our Southern States. And as for the expenditure of life, it seems to be ordered by

It

« PředchozíPokračovat »